I’ve done a post about this before, but this one is a bit different. If you have chronic illness or know someone who does, this is a post that will help you communicate your love and support. You might also want to share this with those you love.
Not Supportive: “You don’t look sick!” (He/She’s heard this a thousand times! What it says to them is “You don’t believe me.”)
“It could be worse!” (While this is true, it isn’t helpful. It’s like telling someone who just lost their child that it could be worse because they could have lost both of their children.)
“Must be nice not to have to go to work!” (Yes people have said this! It’s like telling someone who has the lost a leg, “It must be nice not having to walk and have others push you around all the time.”)
“It’s probably just stress!” (Stress isn’t diagnosed as Fibro of Chronic Fatigue. Saying it’s JUST stress minimizes what they feel and says they could feel better if only they’d do something different. Trust me. They have probably already tried.)
“Are you sure you just can’t __________?” or “Have you tried ______?” (They’re sure. Whatever it is you think they haven’t tried, they have!)
“Call me if you need anything.” (While this sounds helpful, people with chronic illness are usually too proud to ask for help or they don’t want to burden anyone. They won’t call.)
“Feel better soon!” or “Hope you feel better.” (The chronic part of chronic illness means they most likely won’t be feeling better. Saying you hope they feel better isn’t supportive because it implies that they should be thinking more positively about their chronic issue. While they may find something that helps down the line, it probably isn’t as easy as this statement sounds.)
“Just think positive!” or “Have you prayed about it?” or You’re always complaining!” (It’s not a matter of thinking positively and God sometimes doesn’t answer our prayer. Paul prayed for God to take away the “thorn” in his side and God told him that His grace was sufficient for him. Telling someone with chronic issues to pray or think positive is like telling them they are a bad person or a bad Christian because they weren’t healed yet. They may be healed by the Lord sometime in the future on this earth or they may need to wait until they are on the other side of Heaven.)
Supportive: “I’m so sorry!” (Then let them share with you, cry with you, and be uplifted by your support. They don’t need you to try to fix them. They need a friend to support them. They’ve got doctors, other chronic illness friends/groups, and God for that!)
“What is it like?” or “How does it affect you?” (This tells them that you are interested in listening and allowing them to vent a bit. Venting isn’t the same as complaining. Venting to someone willing to understand is helpful. Once the person is allowed to share, they feel a bit better and can actually be at least to some degree more positive.)
“How’s your pain/fatigue level today?” (This tells them you get it. This tells them you care. This tells them they can open up to you without being judged. This is helpful.)
“Wow! That stinks!” (This says you get it and you aren’t trying to shove another “cure” on them. This may actually open up a discussion that may lead to something that helps them because they feel more comfortable with you.)
“How can I help?” (This tells them you really care and are willing to really be there for them.)
“I’m getting a coffee. What can I pick up for you while I’m there?” (This tells them you’re serious about the help you are offering. This way they don’t have to ask. You are offering.)
If you struggle with chronic illness/conditions, you know all too well how many times we need a distraction. From the pain. From the boredom. From the fatigue. Here is a list of ideas that may help. I’d love you to share your favorite method of distraction.
HUMOR: The best way I’ve found to distract myself from the pain or fatigue of chronic illness is with humor. I watch funny reruns of tv shows, funny movies, funny memes on social media. All these get me to laugh, have fun, and help me to cope with the fatigue and pain of fibro and other issues I deal with.
CONVERSATION: Another of my favorite ways to distract is to engage in phone calls with friends and relatives. Catch up, reminisce, and engage. You can have a great time with people even if you can’t get out and even if they are 3000 miles away!
CREATE: I am a creative soul and I love to create new and unique things. I write JoJoisms, blog posts, and I’m working on some books I’d like to get traditionally published. If writing isn’t your thing, you can turn to art, crocheting, crafting, music, running a YouTube channel with your passion… The possibilities are endless!
INSTRUCT: If you have a talent or skill, why not set up a blog or YouTube channel or other way to teach others how to master something new? You have no idea how much your knowledge of history or science or math or any art form might help others and give you an outlet and a reason to bounce (figuratively) out of bed each morning.
CREATE A BUSINESS: Use any of your skills or talents to start a business! You’d be surprised how many YouTube sensations started off just sharing a passion. There might be things you can do that wouldn’t be too energy taxing that could bring you some income! You may not know until you try.
PRAY: If you can’t think of anything that you could do that excites you, you might try praying. Pray for others. Start a prayer group, a support group, a texting ministry. Start a prayer ministry on Facebook where you pray for your Facebook friends and their families. Prayer is powerful and it can be a powerful way to both minister to others and fulfill a purpose here on earth as you struggle with chronic issues.
Can you think of any others? How do you distract yourself?
So many times those of us with chronic illness feel useless because we don’t have the energy to do things with our kids, to help around the house, or to contribute to the family finances. We’re often too tired or in pain to do the things we think we should do. While we may not be able to do certain things, we can, indeed, contribute to others lives in so many other ways that we probably don’t think matters.
Lower Your Standards for Usefulness The first thing I did that helped me to feel as if I had a purpose to my life may sound a little defeatist or wrong. I had to lower my standards of usefulness.
My idea of living with a purpose and making a difference in the world was HUGE! When I was a kid, it was being a famous singer. As I got older it was being the BEST homeschooling mom and helping others to do big things for God. When I found I wasn’t able to get out of the house much (or off the couch often), that made me feel useless. The house wasn’t clean, the kids couldn’t run and play with me and I wasn’t changing anyone’s life.
But when I began to see the little things that I COULD do, I realized that they made a difference in other people’s lives…and sometimes a BIG difference! Instead of hosting big events in person, I hosted an event online. (Before that was a real thing!) Instead of running with my kids, I concentrated on teaching and training them with knowledge and helping them discover who God intended them to be. Instead of writing a best seller, I wrote a little blog that helped others with chronic illness live with more joy.
Those things turned out to be much more rewarding!
BeVirtually Useful Just because we can’t reach out in person, doesn’t mean we can’t help especially in the Information Age! As I mentioned before, I ran an online convention for a few years before online events were even popular. I also took to social media to help others deal with every day issues. I had a texting ministry where I’d text a few people daily to uplift them during a difficult time. I also found ways to earn money online via websites and various original products/services.
So, I was contributing to my household’s finances even though I wasn’t able to hold a job!
Take Up a New Hobby or Purpose Sometimes God will allow you to do the same things you’d like to do in a different way (virtually). Sometimes God gives you a whole new purpose! I have a degree in Speech Communication so when I wasn’t able to do in person speaking engagements, I did them virtually. Later on other things became more important to me.
One of my passions is purple. I’ve always loved the color. About 11 years ago, I started a fan page on Facebook for purple lovers. That page grew to over 10K fans. The page was just for fun. It doesn’t sell anything and I just share and create and post pretty purple things. That’s all. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received a comment or message about how important those pretty purple things uplifted someone during a trial in their lives!
Sometimes you have no idea the importance of something you do for someone else!
See How God Can Use You My advice for you if you are struggling to find a purpose because of chronic illness or a chronic condition is to pray to have God reveal to you how He can use you where you are right now. It doesn’t matter what you can’t do. It only matters what you CAN do! So…
My Fatigue Got Better with More Protein Early last year, I figured out that the amount of daily recommended protein may be a little low for those who have fatigue…at least it was for me and some others I asked. I’m not sure if it’s the fatigue that responded to the additional protein was from Fibro or the fatigue I experience as a result of shaking involuntarily from Essential Tremors all day. Either way, I felt noticeably better having more protein in my diet and so did some others I discussed it with who also have chronic illness.
Excess Weight has a Great Deal of Affect on Fatigue As I started to lose my menopause weight last year, I found that I had more energy. It started when I realized that I hadn’t needed a nap in a while. Then, I graduated to running up the stairs without realizing I was even doing it. Later on, I found that not only didn’t I need a chair in the bathroom or to rest my elbows on the bathroom counter to blow dry my hair, but I didn’t need to rest after taking a shower. By the time I had lost 39lbs, I found that I was doing housework and cooking without much of a problem and that I could spend the weekend running up and down the basement stairs and the third level of our house all weekend without needing a week or two to recuperate.
I thought I Knew What Good Nutrition was, but I was Wrong I didn’t have issues with stress eating or portion control and I didn’t really eat junk food or with binge eating carbs. I was eating what I thought was a healthy menu, but not losing even one ounce. What I found out is that there is more to healthy eating than just not eating junk food and picking healthier food choices…a LOT more!
Some Symptoms of Chronic Illness Actually Improve with Better Nutrition and Weight Loss My fatigue wasn’t the only thing that improved with better nutrition and weight loss! I’ve been an insomniac for decades. It started off with me getting about 2hrs of sleep a night and with pharmaceutical help, I was able to get about 5 hours of broken sleep getting up a few times a night and staying up sometimes for 3 or 4 hours before I could get back to sleep for anywhere from a few minutes to a couple hours. After losing 39 pounds, I am now sleeping about 6-7hrs a night. I get up once or twice, but usually get right back to sleep! BIG WIN!
Some Symptoms of Chronic Illness Do Not Improve with Better Nutrition or Weight Loss While some things do indeed get better with good nutrition and weight loss, some things do not. (Contrary to what others have told us about just needing to think positively or pray more.) Sleep and energy can and do get better with better nutrition and without carrying around extra weight, but they may not totally be resolved. Also pain is much better with less weight on your joints and such, but Fibro isn’t completely resolved through these things. I still have times I get tired or have pain and I still get up a few times a night, BUT they are all much better than they used to be so it’s a win. Just not a complete fix.
Everyone can feel at least somewhat better without excess weight I was skeptical at first about how much energy I’d get back if any. After a year on my weight loss journey, I can tell you that it has been a HUGE win for me. What I learned is that it’s a big win for MANY fibro sufferers and for others with chronic illness as well. I think everyone can benefit from being at a healthy weight and I’d love to show you how you can join me in feeling better!
No, he didn’t exchange me for a pair of 30 yr/old’s! But I grew younger last year!
How is this possible you ask? Here’s how:
So this app I have keeps track of your metabolic age. When I began my health journey a year ago, it said my metabolic age was 61. By the time the beginning of February rolled around, I was a spry 55 year old in a 58 year old’s body!
Pretty cool, huh? My husband and I think so! I’m now married to a younger man too! He turns 59 next month and his metabolic age is now 56.
What I learned last year is just how much nutrition and weight can affect those of us with chronic illness. I never thought it was a good thing to be 5′ nuthin’ and almost 50 pounds overweight, but I didn’t think it had as much of an affect as it did. BUT…it wasn’t just the weight! No!
It was also what I didn’t realize about nutrition. I thought I was making good choices. I wasn’t eating large portions. I wasn’t eating a lot of junk food. I was eating mostly low carb, low fat, very little prepackaged foods with high sodium and, and was eating very few calories. In fact, my doctor never even suggested that I lose weight…and she was TRAINED IN NUTRITION!
What I learned last year is just how scientific the process of weight loss needs to be in order to get into and stay in fat burn. That’s why I never lost my peri menopause weight and that’s why I kept piling on the pounds after my hysterectomy! It’s not just what you eat, but how, and when. AND it needs to be tweaked at times as you go because everyone’s body is different and it changes as you go through the process.
But what I was most surprised about was how much good nutrition plays a part in exercise. I knew that you needed good, solid nutrition to be at your best and that would include exercise, but I had no idea I was not getting what I needed until I went through this process.
Now I know that my body needs a little more protein that most. I feel much better with more protein. I think it’s because my arms and legs and head shakes from the Essential Tremors that I use more energy during the day than most just to exist. BUT what I learned is how to get that extra protein without adding a ton of calories or other things my body doesn’t need.
This is a different process for each person. The kind of program you need may be different than it is for someone else…say your husband. It was for me and mine! The program and process is a bit different based on your health, your health goals and your individual needs and lifestyle. And that is exactly why you need a coach. I would never have gotten to this point if it had not been for my coach and that is exactly why I am so passionate about coaching!
If you’re tired of being tired, contact me! I would love to partner with you so you can reach YOUR health goals!
I’ve done a few Facebook Lives this year about how my body and energy has changed since I started my weight loss/health journey. I thought I’d share them here in case you missed them. They are in chronological order.
This first one I did talked about what my couch and my stairs had in common with my weight loss/health journey:
This next video I did talked about my Aha Moment when I realized I needed to lose weight:
And this final video talked about how much excess weight and being unhealthy had to do with my fibro fatigue:
Today marks ONE YEAR since I started my health journey! Down 38 lbs which is the EXACT weight of this 28 pack of 20 oz bottles of water! (I’m trying to smile, but…it’s HEAVY!)
I’m 5’ nuthin’ and basically the size of the average 12 y/o. I wear size 3 children’s shoes, children’s gloves, and can fit in toddler size hats! So, carrying around 38 extra lbs created a LOT of energy and health consequences!
I was thin most of my life until peri menopause hit and I’ve spent 21 yrs looking for a way to get my health back! Last year I found it! And this is why I’m so excited about being a health coach! If it worked for me (with all my health issues), it can work for ANYBODY and I’d love to help you reach your health goals!
I just had to share this because it’s just too funny. Last week I shared about how my daughter and son in law got me a set of weighted silverware to keep my food in my mouth and not on the floor. Well, I just had to share how it came because I don’t think they quite understand their target market:
If your fingers shake enough that you need a set of weighted stainless steel utensils, you might want to get your husband to help you get them out of the box for you.
Yes. They come with each utensil hard wired in! Each of the two forks and spoons and the one knife comes with TWO twistie ties double twisted (yes in BOTH directions)!